2010 Tennessee Code
Title 50 - Employer And Employee
Chapter 6 - Workers' Compensation Law
Part 2 - Claims and Payment of Compensation
50-6-225 - Submission of claim to court upon failure to agree on compensation Special workers' compensation appeals panel Impasse.

50-6-225. Submission of claim to court upon failure to agree on compensation Special workers' compensation appeals panel Impasse.

(a)  (1)  Notwithstanding any provisions of this chapter to the contrary, in case of a dispute over or failure to agree upon compensation under this chapter, between the employer and employee or the dependent or dependents of the employee, the parties shall first submit the dispute to the benefit review conference process provided by the division of workers' compensation.

     (2)  (A)  In the event the parties are unable to reach an agreement at the benefit review conference as to all issues related to the claim or the benefit review conference process is otherwise exhausted pursuant to rules promulgated by the commissioner, either party may file a civil action as provided in § 50-6-203 in the circuit or chancery court in the county in which the employee resides or in which the alleged injury occurred. In instances where the employee resides outside of the state and where the injury occurs outside of the state, the complaint shall be filed in any county where the employer maintains an office.

          (B)  If the parties are unable to reach an agreement at the benefit review conference as to all issues related to the claim or the benefit review conference process is otherwise exhausted pursuant to rules promulgated by the commissioner, and if the employer is a county or a municipal corporation that has accepted the provisions of this chapter, either party may file a civil action in the county in which the governmental entity is located or in the county in which the incident occurred from which the civil action arises.

     (3)  Neither party in a civil action filed pursuant to this section shall have the right to demand a jury.

(b)  The Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure and the Tennessee Rules of Evidence apply to all civil actions filed pursuant to this section.

(c)  Unless required to be filed by an earlier date as a result of discovery requests pursuant to the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, within sixty (60) days after the filing of an answer in an action under this section, the employer shall file with the court a wage statement detailing the employee's wages for the previous fifty-two (52) weeks, unless the employer stipulates that the maximum weekly workers' compensation rate applies in the particular action.

(d)  Whenever any civil action is brought pursuant to this section, the judge or chancellor may, if the judge or chancellor so desires, visit the scene of the accident and examine the surroundings.

(e)  (1)  Any party to the proceedings in the circuit or chancery court may, if dissatisfied or aggrieved by the judgment or decree of that court, appeal to the supreme court, where the cause shall be heard and determined as provided in the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure.

     (2)  Review of the trial court's findings of fact shall be de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of the correctness of the finding, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise.

     (3)  The supreme court may, by order, refer workers' compensation cases to a panel known as the special workers' compensation appeals panel. This panel shall consist of three (3) judges designated by the chief justice, at least one (1) of whom shall be a member of the supreme court.

     (4)  Any case that the supreme court by order or rule refers to the special workers' compensation appeals panel shall be briefed, and oral argument shall be heard pursuant to the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure as if the appeal were being heard by the entire supreme court.

     (5)  (A)  The special workers' compensation appeals panel shall reduce to writing its findings and conclusions in all cases. The decision of the panel shall become the judgment of the supreme court thirty (30) days after it is issued unless:

                (i)  Any member of the supreme court files with the clerk a written request within the thirty-day period that the case be heard by the entire supreme court, in which event a final judgment will not be entered until the supreme court, after due consideration of the case, enters final judgment; or

                (ii)  Any party to the appeal files a motion requesting review by the entire supreme court within fifteen (15) days after issuance of the decision by the panel, in which event a final judgment will not be entered:

                     (a)  Until the motion is denied; or

                     (b)  If the motion is granted, until the supreme court enters final judgment after its consideration of the case.

          (B)  For purposes of this subsection (e), a decision of the panel shall be deemed to be issued on the day it is mailed to the parties, which date shall be noted on the decision by the clerk. Section 27-1-122 applies to all motions made pursuant to this subsection (e).

     (6)  If the entire supreme court, on its own motion or after granting the motion of a party, reviews an opinion of the special workers' compensation appeals panel, its review will be limited to the record and the briefs on file before the special workers' compensation appeals panel; provided, that the supreme court may, in its discretion, order the parties to further brief the issues or appear at oral argument.

(f)  The trial of all cases under this chapter shall be expedited by:

     (1)  Giving the cases priority over all cases on the trial and appellate dockets; and

     (2)  Allowing any case on appeal in the supreme court to be on motion of either party transferred to the division where the supreme court is then or will next be in session.

(g)  (1)  If the judgment or decree of a court is appealed pursuant to subsection (e), interest on the judgment or decree shall be computed from the date that the judgment or decree is entered by the trial court at an annual rate of interest five (5) percentage points above the average prime loan rate for the most recent week for which such an average rate has been published by the board of governors of the federal reserve system on the total judgment awarded by the supreme court. For purposes of calculating the accrual of interest pursuant to this subdivision (g)(1), the average prime loan rate on the day the judgment or decree is entered by the trial court shall be used.

     (2)  Total judgment awarded is computed by the total number of weeks multiplied by the benefit rate without any reduction.

     (3)  For purposes of determining the amount of interest that has accrued on a judgment or decree, the commissioner of financial institutions shall maintain a listing of the average prime loan rate as it becomes available each month, and the commissioner of financial institutions shall respond to inquiries concerning what the average prime rate was on a given month and year. If the person making the inquiry so requests, the commissioner shall send the person a letter certifying what the average prime rate was on the month and year requested. The commissioner is authorized to charge a reasonable fee not to exceed ten dollars ($10.00) for preparing and sending the letter.

     (4)  For purposes of this subsection (g), “judgment” and “decree” includes any discretionary costs awarded pursuant to this chapter.

(h)  When a reviewing court determines pursuant to motion or sua sponte that the appeal of an employer or insurer is frivolous, or taken for purposes of delay, a penalty may be assessed by the court, without remand, against the appellant for a liquidated amount.

(i)  When a reviewing court determines pursuant to motion or sua sponte that the appeal of an employee is frivolous, a penalty may be assessed by the court, without remand, against the appellant for a liquidated amount.

(j)  If an employer wrongfully fails to pay an employee's claim for temporary total disability payments, the employer shall be liable, in the discretion of the court, to pay the employee, in addition to the amount due for temporary total disability payments, a sum not exceeding twenty-five percent (25%) of the temporary total disability claim; provided, that it is made to appear to the court that the refusal to pay the claim was not in good faith and that the failure to pay inflicted additional expense, loss or injury upon the employee; and provided, further, that the additional liability shall be measured by the additional expense thus entailed.

(k)  If, on request by the specialist, a party fails to produce documents, to cooperate in scheduling a conference or to provide a representative authorized to settle a matter in attendance at a conference, then a specialist may declare an impasse and file the report on unresolved issues with a court. On the motion of either party or on the court's own motion, a court is authorized, but not required, to hold a hearing on the failure to produce documents requested by the specialist, to cooperate in scheduling or to provide a representative who possessed settlement authority. If the court determines that the failure lacked good cause or resulted from bad faith, then the court may assess the offending party who failed to take the requested action with attorney's fees and costs related only to the trial. The commissioner is authorized to promulgate rules to effectuate the purposes of this subsection (k) in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.

(l)  If an employee receives a settlement, judgment or decree under this chapter that includes the payment of medical expenses and the employer or workers' compensation carrier wrongfully fails to reimburse an employee for any medical expenses actually paid by the employee within sixty (60) days of the settlement, judgment or decree, or fails to provide reasonable and necessary medical expenses and treatment, including failure to reimburse for reasonable and necessary medical expenses, in bad faith after receiving reasonable notice of their obligation to provide the medical treatment, the employer or workers' compensation carrier shall be liable, in the discretion of the court, to pay the employee, in addition to the amount due for medical expenses paid, a sum not exceeding twenty-five percent (25%) of the expenses; provided, that it is made to appear to the court that the refusal to pay the claim was not in good faith and that the failure to pay inflicted additional expense, loss or injury upon the employee.

[Acts 1919, ch. 123, § 32; Shan. Supp. § 3608a182½; Code 1932, § 6885; Acts 1941, ch. 90, § 9; C. Supp. 1950, § 6885; Acts 1969, ch. 311, § 1; 1981, ch. 449, § 2; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 50-1018; Acts 1985, ch. 393, §§ 14, 15, 23; 1988, ch. 630, §§ 1, 2; 1992, ch. 952, §§ 7, 8; 1996, ch. 944, § 16; 1997, ch. 150, § 1; 1998, ch. 1024, § 14; 1999, ch. 336, §§ 1, 2; 1999, ch. 520, § 41; 2000, ch. 678, § 1; 2000, ch. 739, § 1; 2000, ch. 852, §§ 7, 8; 2001, ch. 117, § 1; 2004, ch. 962, §§ 16, 49; 2005, ch. 28, § 1; 2006, ch. 703, § 1; 2008, ch. 1183, §§ 5, 6.]  
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